“It’s been way too long,” I agree, rocking her from side to side before letting her go to look at Cara, who is standing next to me.

“Kim, this is my sister-in-law, Cara. Cara, this is Kim, my amazing hair stylist and friend,” I introduce.


“I still cannot believe you’re married to The Dick,” Kim says, then her eyes widen and her face pales as she looks from me to Cara. “I’m so sorry.” She covers her mouth.

“Don’t be sorry.” Cara grins. “I used to call Dillon’s brother Parker The Prick before we got together, so being an asshole must be a family trait,” she confides, making us laugh. Then her eyes glaze over and she breathes, “Holy cow.” Turning to see what’s caught her attention, I watch my cousin Sage push open the door with one hand while holding Hope’s tiny hand with the other.

“Yep, holy cow,” Kim grumbles, while Sage lifts his chin toward Cara smiles softly at Kim then grins at me.

“Hey, cuz,” he greets as Hope runs toward me and wraps her tiny arms around my thighs.

“Hey.”

I smile then look down as Hope shouts, “Auntie Ashlyn, you’re here!” while tilting her body back awkwardly to look up at me.

“Hey, princess.” I smile, picking her up, even though she is way past the stage of being carted around, and resting her on my hip. “What are you up to?”

“Just hanging with Uncle Sage. Doin’ detective stuff.” She shrugs, like it’s no big deal, and I fight back my smile.

“That sounds fun.”

“It was only kind of fun, since we didn’t get any bad guys,” she huffs, and I laugh then look at Sage, who is smiling at her.

“Sage, this is Dillon’s brother’s wife, Cara. Cara, my cousin, Sage, and you already know Hope,” I say.

“Hello, Cara,” Hope breathes in little girl happiness. When we went panning for gold with the boys, we took Hope along with us, and she fell in love with my sister-in-law immediately and convinced herself that Cara is one of the Disney princesses.

“Nice to meet you.” Cara smiles at Sage before running her hand down Hope’s hair. “Hey, beautiful girl.”

“Hi.” She wiggles herself to be put down, and then looks between Cara and me. “Are you guys here to get ready for the ball?” she asks. Then she spins when Ellie yells, “Hope!” loud enough to make me jump.

“What ball?” I ask Ellie, and she rolls her eyes.

“Dinner tomorrow. Hope’s convinced herself it’s going to be a ball.” She shakes her head, giving me a side hug, before saying hello to Cara, who she also met last weekend when we picked her daughter up to go with us.

“I thought it was just a family dinner.” I raise a brow, seeing she has Hope’s mouth covered, and she drops her hand away quickly then spins Hope to face her.

“Why don’t you go pick a nail polish. We got some new colors in today.”

“Yay!” Hope shouts, shooting her arms in the air while running off.

Planting my hands on my hips, I glare at my brother’s wife. “What’s going on? First, Dillon tells me that he’s having dinner with my parents tonight, and now this. Something is up, and you better spill it.”

“There’s nothing to spill.” She shrugs, and I narrow my eyes, knowing she’s lying, since she is the worst liar ever. “Seriously, there is nothing to spill,” she repeats, then looks past me and smirks.

“No, I’m working right now,” Kim hisses behind me, and I pull my eyes from Ellie and turn to find Sage standing in Kim’s space, with his face dipped close to hers.

“We can talk now, or I can stop by your place tonight. You choose.”

“That’s not exactly a choice.” She glares at him, balling her hands into fists, and his lips twitch ever so slightly.

“Your choice, sweetheart. I’m good either way, but we both know what will happen if I have to come to your house,” he mutters, and her eyes widen.

“God, you are… you are… I don’t even know what you are,” she growls, then looks at me.

“I’m so sorry about this. I’ll be right back,”

“It’s fine,” I assure her, watching Sage open the door, allowing her to stomp out past him.

“See you tomorrow.” He smiles, looking at Cara, Ellie, and me.

“See you tomorrow,” I agree as he let’s the door go and walks toward Kim, who is now standing at the edge of the sidewalk with her arms crossed over her chest looking annoyed.

“What’s that about?” I question Ellie, who has moved closer to the front window.

“Last week, Sage found out Kim’s boyfriend isn’t exactly the kind of ‘boyfriend’ he thought he was. Since then, that”—she points her finger toward Kim and Sage, who are standing close together—“has been happening almost everyday.”

“So he finally figured it out?” I ask, staring at Ellie in disbelief, and she laughs.

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